I don’t know about where you live but, in our area, it seems the end of summer and beginning of fall is the time for festivals! Cultural festivals can be a great way to introduce your kids to cultures from around the world. We recently visited our local festival in Kansas City, the Ethnic Enrichment Festival, put on by the Ethnic Enrichment Commission.
Our festival visit began at the Information Booth. Here, kids grabbed a Passport which was stamped at each “country” they visited.
The Main Stage
Our first stop was the fashion show on the main stage. We got to see people modeling traditional dress from many different places while an emcee explained different aspects of the outfits. For example, we learned that in Germany women wore the bow of their apron on a specific side depending on if they were married or not.
Some of the local clubs put on dances as well. This one, from Brazil, was performed by Grupo Axé Capoeira. Seeing all the different organizations there made me wonder if we could join one to learn throughout the year!
Festival Food and Drink – Part 1
Next, we moved on to find some food. (It was also SO hot we needed something cold to drink.) We chose Puerto Rico because they had the shortest line. Luckily, they also had delicious, icy piña coladas! We also got to try some tostones (fried plantains). My kids are aspiring bilinguals, so starting in a place where they could practice their Spanish was a bonus.
Lots of Booths
The festival also had booths from a variety of countries. Each booth offered souvenirs or artifacts and maps from the country they represented. At a few booths, we got lucky and the booth host taught the kids a few things about the country.
Most booths had some sort of food or treat you could buy, as well, and every booth had a place where the kids could get their “passports” stamped.
Festival Food and Drink – Part 2
Near the end of our visit, we sat down for meals from Iran and the Philippines. The Koobideh Kabob and Olivieh Salad from Iran were my favorites!
Our last stop was Malaysia. We wanted to try the decadent looking Iced Rose Tea, but they were all out. This year was the first in-person festival since the pandemic, so the crowds were huge. The lines were very long, and some of the booths started selling out of certain dishes or drinks. Even the ATM ran out of cash! I was glad to see so many people in my city coming together to celebrate cultures from around the world, even if that meant not getting to try certain foods.
From My Kids
My 7-year-old said, “Kids should go because of the Kid’s World. You get to make bracelets and have your face painted.” Her favorite place to visit was Puerto Rico because of the piña colada and “because JHouse Vlogs lives there.”
My 8-year-old said, “Kids should go because it’s fun to learn about all the different countries.” His favorite place to visit was China because “they told me that 4 is an unlucky number in China.” But, he also liked Puerto Rico because of the piña colada.
Using Festivals for Learning
If you have a festival like this in your hometown, it’s a great way to encourage learning about different countries throughout the year. You can use what the kids notice as jumping off points for more learning. For example, we are definitely going to look for a recipe to try making our own milky rose tea. We also plan to visit our local library to learn more about the places we “visited.” Then, when the festival comes around next year, the kids will be excited to visit booths they know about. Other ideas might include:
- Finding all the places you visited on maps or a globe
- Coloring or constructing the flags of the countries you visited
- Finding folk songs or music from the places you saw
- Looking for local museums exhibits or other events to continue learning about places of particular interest
- Learning a few words or phrases in a language from some of the countries on display
Even if you don’t have a big Ethnic Enrichment Commission like we do, you might want to check your local schools or churches. You might be able to find multicultural evenings or presentations there. Or, maybe you could organize one yourself and invite others to help you!
Tips for Visiting Festivals
I’m the type of person that does not think ahead or prepare. So here are some things I learned for next year when we visit.
- Bring a water bottle. It gets hot and waiting in line or paying for water isn’t the best use of your time/money.
- Bring cash. Many of the booths were run by clubs or volunteers, not businesses, meaning most did not have card readers and only accepted cash. Also, the ATM ran out of cash near the end, so you can’t rely on that.
- Bring sunscreen. This festival was in an open field, so we were standing in the sun a lot.
What’s Coming Up Where You Live?
Let’s make this post a resource for finding festivals like this in other places! Do an internet search or poll your friends to see if you can find a festival coming up that you can attend. Then come back here and tell us in the comments! Let’s share what fun things are coming up around the world!
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